Recent press reports indicate that the nuclear waste train, scheduled to run through Champaign County on account of its low population density, has been postponed due to concerns over terrorist attack. The New York Times reported the morning of September 22 that all nuclear waste shipments are on hold at the moment, not just the train in question. Local TV and newspapers in Ohio reported on September 21 that the rail shipment of highly radioactive material is on hold “indefinitely”.
A story in last month’s public i revealed that the protective casks used to ship this dangerous material are certified to 1940s standards and are subject to failure in fires that could occur in an accident en route to their destination. In thefires that contributed to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, there is considerable evidence that temperatures reached hundreds and possibly even thousands of degrees higher than the 1,475 degrees for a half hour at which the nuclear waste casks are rated, demonstrating that concerns raised by activists about potential failure of the casks are well-grounded.
National and state authorities had earlier claimed that there should be no concern by the public about this cross-country rail shipment of nuclear wastes. Authorities had also tried to equate protest against the nuke trains with terrorism. Both positions have been shown to be unfounded. The public is left to wonder about the wisdom of the idea of mass movement of nuclear materials that would undoubtedly be necessary to accommodate the Bush administration’s plans to greatly increase US reliance on nuclear power.